Saturday, July 26, 2008

Funk It Up About Nothin'

Quick! Go see this show -- it closes next Sunday before heading off to Edinburgh. I know, I know, it sounds hackneyed ("Hey, Shakespeare was a sort of poet! Rappers are sorts of poets! Let's rap Shakespeare!"), but it's not. It's actually kind of amazing. Not only is it insanely fun, it's very very smart. This isn't just a rap version of Shakespeare; it's (and I think this is what most of the detractors are missing) a mash-up of Shakespeare and hip hop. Neither of the two is more important and each is used to serve the other. There are as many in-jokes and plays on hip hop past and present as there are on Shakespeare. If you enjoy either Shakes or rap, you'll have a blast at this show. If you enjoy both, you can't afford to miss it.

The Q Brothers have won another convert for life. I'm pissed that I never got a chance to see The Bomb-itty of Errors, but they've still got almost an entire oeuvre to go. And you can bet I'll be first in line for A Mad-summer's Night Dream.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

He's back!

And he has a caveat...

Posting will be light for the next couple of weeks. I don't get teh internet in my new place until the 1st and I just started a new temp gig today; a temp gig I quite enjoy that pays me well and has an excellent chance of becoming a permanent gig. Needless to say, I'm going to lay low for a bit and get a feel for the place before I rampantly abuse internet availability. Which sucks, because I have a lot of stuff I wanna talk about, much of which I already wanted to talk about before I left for Iowa. But hey, a brother gots to get paid...

There's not a whole lot of Rekk free time between rehearsals (more news to come...) and helping with box office and other such things for Signal, but I'm packing in as much theatah as I still can. This week is Circle's Hay Fever on Thursday, Chicago Shakes' Funk It Up About Nothin' on Friday and WNEP's Metaluna and the Amazing Science of the Mind Revue on Sunday.

And, of course, Signal's The Birthday Party opens on Monday. I wish you the best of luck on trying to get opening night tix, but there are previews on Saturday and Sunday, and as for the rest of the run, you can always take advantage of one of the best industry night policies in the city: every night is industry night. Bring a headshot or resume or business card to any performance for $10 tickets. Though you may want to call ahead. These things have been known to sell out -- with good reason.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


It really is all about money, isn't it?

The idea that Art with a capital 'A' (or Theatre with a capital 'T') can or cannot fail at all implies that Art or Theatre has a common goal.

I don't know about you all, but my art hasn't failed. And I have a hard time seeing how it can -- the point of the whole thing for me seems not to be to place my ideas into the audience through my work but to have the audience find their own ideas in my work.

That's what I focus on. Isn't that silly?


Monday, July 7, 2008

Life Goals

I have a new one, post-Kooza: Wheel of Death. I'm convinced I could do this and do it well. Now to find some place to give me some good ol' fashioned Wheel of Death schooling.

Ah, the 4th. I enjoyed a healthy dose of Freedom via BBQ this weekend but also lost my best friend and roommate for the past year to NYC. (NY'ers, there's a new theatre artist in town, but this one comes highly Rekk-ommended(!), so keep an eye open for Lloyd Mulvey. He's cool beans and infinitely talented and driven.) So that was sad.

It also makes me feel as if, as I close in on my third anniversary, I am finally a full-blooded Chicagoan. Lloyd was the only person I knew in the city when I moved to Chicago. I had zero connections, zero names to drop, zero knowledge of anybody, place, or thing in the Chicago theatre scene. I've spent the last three years making lots of friends and one or two enemies, doing some really good and some really shitty work, and generally making myself a home. I've gradually built a really good foundation and surrounded myself with a truly amazing base of friends and Chicago family, be it through Signal, clowning, or blogging. And now, in a period of one week, I've lost the ritual comfort of my apartment, my job, and Lloyd, my original tie to the city and the guy who has served as my daily sounding board, confidant, and partner in crime since then.

So what's a guy to do? A guy is to go to his original home for a week and a half and reset, then return to his new home and reset. And a guy is to take those ideas that have been sounded and confided and criminally partnered and make them reality. And a guy is to never forget, but a guy is also to walk with his face forward rather than over his shoulder. There are big, big plans in store, some formulated, some still abstract, some long-term, some spontaneous. And now is go.

I'll be embarking on some more detail-sharing post-reset, but I've been laying groundwork for a massive (massive as in 2 1/2 year) project that will serve to lay down the blueprints of theatre as it exists for Paul Rekk in one fell swoop. It's coming; keep your eyes open.

I'm excited that Lloyd is in New York -- it's where he wants and needs to be as an artist. And I'm excited that I'm in Chicago. It's home.

And hey, speaking of which, I leave for Iowa on Thursday morning... isn't that cool? Contrary to popular belief, the webbernet does extend to the IA, so I will be checking in from time to time. I'm probably not posting anything until after I get back on July 20th, but feel free to bask in my omniprescence. T'ain't no time for slacking though: I'm also heading to Victory Gardens for Relatively Close on Wednesday night.

Seriously, though -- Rekk-ommended? It just came to me. I'm so cool.


"In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind and dreaming ahead." -Tony Kushner

R.I.P., 1503

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A request

This one's for all you Francophiles out there.

I'm looking for translated copies of some of Jean Tardieu's theatrical work. Anybody? The long term plan is to gain a working knowledge of French within the next two years. But that does me no good right now. Anybody?

Awesome. Thanks.

EDIT: While I'm throwing out requests, here's a long shot: anybody got anything by Julien Torma (in any language)? I've got this book, but I'd love to get my hands of some of his plays as well.


The Strangerer

Here's the problem with seeing shows so late in the run: I don't have proper time to recommend them to other people. Any weekend bloggers may have noticed that The Strangerer landed on my Best of the Best for a whopping two days before it closed and was gone forever (or at least to New York -- where I still name it Best of the Best.)

The Strangerer was one of those experiences where I had a physical reaction to theatre. It doesn't happen often, and when it does it usually manifests itself in the weeping, convulsing vein. (See Lookingglass Alice, the latest Best of the Best addition) After The Strangerer, I was shaky and unsettled. I couldn't breathe quite so deeply as I would have liked and I kinda wanted to huddle in a corner and gather my bearings. But, despite how it may sound, I didn't find it to be a reaction of fear or dismay. I'm not entirely sure how exactly it would qualify other than being extremely and deeply real.

I remember the first time I read The Stranger. It was my entry point into the Existentialist line of thought and a bit of a life-changing event. (It wasn't long after that I discovered Nietzsche, also earth-shattering.) Mickle Maher (who, with apologies to Marisa, Emily, and Tracy, now without a doubt gets my vote for best Chicago playwright) has taken the bleakness and the freedom and the intertwining of the two from Meursault and settled them onto Bush. The brilliance of the piece, however, is the completely earnest nature in which he does so. This is not parody, this is not satire. This is hardly a comedy; it is, of course, but only in the deepest, darkest sense, the sense that everything is a comedy inasmuch that everything is held to far more importance than it holds. By applying the vision of Meursault to Bush, Maher makes sense of Bush (or at least a possibility of sense) and in front of an urban theatre crowd no less -- a group that one can all but guarantee isn't nearly as interested in making sense of Bush as they are in making fun of him.

As the play moves on, it becomes more and more unsettling as we realize that we are not simply seeing Bush as Meursault, we are watching Bush make the very same existential realizations in front of us. And then, as Bush relays a harrowing story of his witnessing an actual child killed on stage in a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, we know that the only rational conclusion to a show so hyper-aware of its theatricality is the irrational one -- the on stage murder of the actor playing Jim Lehrer. Of course, it's not going to happen. Of course. But couldn't it? Why not? Would it really matter? And then Jim Lehrer leaves. And Bush follows him out. And Kerry keeps talking to us, more or less explaining to us the murder that is happening in the lobby. And I wanted to leave; I wanted to see the murder, not hear about it. I was seconds from actually getting up to see, Vivian Girls-style, what was happening in the lobby. I think the only thing that kept me was the possibility that what I would have walked into was an actual murder. The ideas presented were that palpable.

I have to cut this short even now, because I know that I'm doing a horrible job of relaying my thoughts. Which I credit to Maher: it's the same difficulty I have relaying the connection I feel to Existentialism and the work of Camus and Nietzsche and the like. I've known a couple of people in my life who simply connect to the ideas in the same manner, and it's almost unspoken; we're just aware that there is a deeper vein between us. I'd like to have a sit down with Maher sometime, because I don't see how a piece this natural could come from someone not in on it.

Go see it if you're in New York. That's about all I can say.


I moved on Monday. So that's done. Now I need a job. Anyone? I'm capable.


This week's schedule is a relaxed holiday weekend: tonight is Cirque du Soleil's Kooza, tomorrow is Griffin's Be More Chill, and Saturday is BackStage's Bloody Bess.